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10 Questions & Answers On… Princess Margaret

This week’s 10 Questions & Answers takes another look back. This week, we have chosen the Queen’s late sister, Princess Margaret, Countess Of Snowdon. We hope you enjoy this weeks 10 Q&As.

Question 1: Who exactly was Princess Margaret?

Princess Margaret was Queen Elizabeth II’s sister and only sibling. She died in 2002. At birth, Princess Margaret became 4th in line to the throne. During her life, the highest point she came in line to the throne was 2nd in-line. Princess Margaret played the role of supporting The Queen during her life and was known for her joie de vivre and often vivacious elegance.

Question 2: What was Princess Margaret’s childhood like?

Princess Margaret was born HRH Princess Margaret of York on 21st August 1930, interestingly, the registration of her birth was delayed for several days to avoid her being numbered 13 in the parish register. Margaret’s early life was spent primarily at the Yorks’ residences at 145 Piccadilly (their town house in London) or Royal Lodge in Windsor. The Yorks were perceived by the public as an ideal family: father, mother and children, but unfounded rumours that Margaret was deaf and dumb were not completely dispelled until Margaret’s first main public appearance at her uncle Prince George’s wedding in 1934.Princess Margaret, like most royal heirs before her, was educated at home by a governess alongside her sister, who would later become Queen Elizabeth II.


Question 3: As a member of the Royal Family, what duties did Princess Margaret have?

Princess Margaret’s function was to assist The Queen [her sister] and perform royal duties in her own right. Princess Margaret, like all members of the Royal Family, had strong charitable connections. Princess Margaret started her royal duties very young. She played a part in the silver jubilee of her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, aged five in 1935. She later attended her parents’ coronation in 1937. Her first major royal tour took place when she joined her parents and sister for a tour of South Africa in 1947.

Question 4: Who were Princess Margaret’s romantic interests?

Princess Margaret was originally infatuated with her father’s equerry, Group Captain Peter Townsend. Townsend met Princess Margaret in his role as an equerry to her father, King George VI. Despite his distinguished career, in the social atmosphere of the time, when divorced people suffered severe disapproval and could not remarry in the Church of England, Townsend had no realistic chance of marriage with Princess Margaret. Their relationship caused enormous controversy around 1953. When Princess Margaret went to ask her sister, The Queen, whether she had her permission to marry (as is required for members of the Royal Family to marry), she was refused it. Eventually, Princess Margaret gave up on Townsend after persistence from her family.

Question 5: Did Princess Margaret marry. To whom?

After being refused marriage to Peter Townsend and Townsend leaving for a post in Belgium, Princess Margaret moved on with her life. Eventually, Princess Margaret married the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbey on 6 May 1960. She supposedly accepted his proposal only a day after learning from Peter Townsend that he intended to marry a young Belgian woman. The announcement of the engagement, on 26 February 1960, took the press by surprise. Margaret had taken care to conceal the romance from reporters. Princess Margaret was indeed, originally in love with Antony Armstrong-Jones, however this romance didn’t last!


Question 6: What were Princess Margaret’s titles?

From birth, Princess Margaret was originally styled as ‘HRH Princess Margaret of York’, when her father acceded to the throne as King George VI, she became ‘HRH The Princess Margaret’. In 1961, her husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones was created Earl of Snowdon by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – this gave Margaret the full style, from 1961 until her death of: ‘Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess Of Snowdon’.

Question 7: What went wrong in Princess Margaret’s marriage to the Earl of Snowdon?

From the early 1970s, the Snowdons’ relationship had begun to show cracks. Princess Margaret was accused of seeing a man who was 17 years younger than her. Roddy Llewelyn was a baronet and a gardening journalist. Once, when Llewellyn left on an impulsive trip to Turkey, Princess Margaret became emotionally distraught and took an overdose of sleeping tablets. “I was so exhausted because of everything”, she later said, “that all I wanted to do was sleep.” As she recovered, her ladies-in-waiting kept the Earl of Snowdon away from her, afraid that seeing him would distress her further. In February 1976, a picture of Margaret and Llewellyn in swimsuits on Mustique was published on the front page of the News of the World tabloid. Public opinion of Princess Margaret was that of disgust and a feeling she was sponging off the country. On 11 July 1978, the Snowdons’ divorce was finalised. It was the first divorce of a senior Royal since Princess Victoria of Edinburgh in 1901.

Question 8: Was Princess Margaret a controversial figure?

Yes. Princess Margaret was frequently embroiled in controversial matters. From management of her private life to the views she possessed which could potentially have compromised her position in the Royal Family. On one occasion, she was supposedly noted to have referred to the Irish as ‘pigs’ when her uncle Lord Mountbatten was murdered by the IRA in 1979. Official denials of this were immediately issued, but the public didn’t believe the denials.

Question 9: Where did Princess Margaret live before her death in 2002?

Princess Margaret resided in Kensington Palace, apartment 1A (the apartment the present Duke and Duchess Of Cambridge are now actually moving into). Apartment 1A was a four-story, 20-room home in a primary location inside Kensington Palace. It was given to Princess Margaret as a gift  from The Queen in 1960, Princess Margaret occupied the apartment from 1960 until her death in 2002.


Question 10: How did Princess Margaret die?

The later life of Princess Margaret was plagued with quite serious illness at stages. Princess Margaret was known to be a heavy smoker, much like her father King George VI who died at the age of 56 from lung cancer. In her later years, Princess Margaret had an operation to remove part of her lung and even after giving up smoking, continued heavy drinking. She suffered several strokes in her later years and Princess Margaret died in the King Edward VII Hospital, London, on 9 February 2002 at the age of 71, after suffering another stroke.

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